Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Top 7 Tips for Cheap Summer Travel

For many people the only time they can travel across the pond to Europe is in the height of summer. The airlines realize this and most years charge a hefty premium for July and early August travel - ie more than $1000 RT. However, this year there are some pretty major deals going on from various spots around the country and the airlines keep extending/filing new deals that extend the travel period right into July and August.

Top 7 tips

1. Checkout the published airfares from your home airport to Europe. Use FareCompare's Europe Map Tool . Change the travel dates - the dropdowns are just above the map.

2. Checkout the airfares from major cities. Often times there are deals going on out of the major hubs like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte etc. Then you can take advantage of all the domestic airfare sales going on to get to the major hubs. For example, Southwest just announced their flights into La Guardia. $99 one way from just about every city they fly from. Jetblue are just finishing up a $39 each way sale tomorrow.

3. Consider flying into Ireland. For some crazy reason, the airlines are cutting their own throats for summer travel into Ireland. Prices are down in the $45o range out of New York for nonstop travel in July. It also helps that Ireland has lower landing fees than many European airports (especially Heathrow, Gatwick).

4. Use low cost carriers when you get to Europe. So you really want to go to Italy, but you can't get a cheap deal into Milan or Rome. Don't fret - see if you can get a cheap deal into Paris, Dublin, London etc then use EasyJet, RyanAir and the other low cost airlines. Use a site like SkyScanner to find all the low cost carrier deals.

5. Make the most of airfare monitoring services like FareCompare's MyTrips If you create a user on MyTrips, then you can create any number of trips to watch fares not only to your favorite cities, but entire regions or countries. Simply type Europe as the destination and remember to specify your approximate travel dates - ie July - August. The system will then automatically notify you when the airlines drop prices.

6. If you get a new email telling you of a price drop. Act quickly ! Chances are the airlines are only going to release a limited number of seats. So have that credit card ready !

7. Be Flexible on your departure and return dates. Tues, Wed are normally the cheapest days to fly into Europe - but not always. Best to use a flexible search like on Fly.com or the flexible search you get to by clicking on a fare in FareCompare's Mytrips email alerts. Here's an example of available fares from NYC to Dublin in July

If anyone has more tips - please leave them in the comments and I'll add.

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